So the new barn manager informs us that she will no longer provide grain to the 'pasture board' horses as her nutrition class at school indicated that a horse can not have more than five pounds of food in their stomachs at a time and therefore they would just 'poop' all the grain out. Therefore, if a horse is out on grass, they get enough food without the grain. I was taken aback by this as it is contrary to what I had learned. I also asked the manager about supplements and the response was I don't know. They get what they need from grass. I though grass in the NE was selenium deficient.
Am I working on an antiquated system and faulty knowledge?
Also, buy the rules above, why would she feed grain on an empty stomach (which I always thought allowed them to bolt their food) and then put them out on 'grass'. Wouldn't that push the grain through the system too fast?
Your barn manager needs to go back and re-read those nutrition books, as well as learn about how much grass is in 5#'s of grass.
Some horses do just fine on pasture with no grain supplementing their feed. However, they should be getting a vitamin and mineral supplement that balances their pasture. Some horses can't live on pasture alone (hello! 99% of the worlds TB's would starve on just pasture!) Those horses need a meal with some more calories (beet pulp, grain, low carb grain, alfalfa, etc). Horses in work need a bit more protein than pasture can offer.
Feeding a horse is more of an art than a science. Your barn manager is trying to make a one size fits all program that is both cheaper and easier. It's not going to work, and she's going to lose clients. I'd be moving my horse...and he doens't get grain. He gets pasture, a little bit of hay, a ration balancer, and Se/Vit E...
Depending on the horse, the pasture, the level of work being done by the horse, the reproductive status, the time of year (maturity of the grasses), number of horses on the pasture, size of the pasture, care given to the pasture, etc SOME horses will do fine on pasture without grain. Mine have done so over the years for the most part (at least when we actually had pasture). Your BO needs to go back and re-read the books however since horses on pasture may only have 5 lbs of grass in their stomach at any one time but will have way more than 5 pounds go THROUGH their stomach in a day of grazing. Some grass pastures in some areas will have the nutrition a horse needs while others, due to soil conditions, age and type of grass etc won't. Some horses need pasture plus hay, pasture plus grain, pasture plus hay and grain....they are individuals and one feeding program won't do for all horses.
Sounds like she has gone to an extreme and misunderstood something said at school.
If your horse were - FOR EXAMPLE - a mustang that lived in the field - where the fields are providing and not working a job - you might be able to make a blanketed statement like that and be right most of the time.
HOWEVER, my TBs have always needed grain, grass AND hay. Late summer grass is lower in nutrients too. I have 3 ponies - 1 does well on just pasture. My pastures are green but pretty eaten down. One of the other ponies needs just half a scoop of 12% and the other one gets an herbal supplement for allergies and it goes in a 10% feed - full scoop. All 3 ponies are pretty easy keepers - bloom coat - not fat - bright eyed - work 3-4 times a week. Notice, all three eat differently. They are the same height - one is 6 - one is 7 and one is 11. They are all pasture kept.
Yep. Each horse is different. We have TBs who live on grass only. They are all in steady work and are competing in eventing as high as advanced. We carefully manage our pastures and have water to irrigate them, and we have to mow to keep the grass short enough that the horses like it.
We also have WBs who get too fat on grass and have be in the diet pens part of the day. Again, they are working horses.
So there is no blanket statement that can be made about feeding.